Culture

It Could Be Time To Say Goodbye To Your Salsa Forever As Tomatoes And Chilies Are In Danger Of Going Extinct

Two of Latin America’s most important ingredients – staples of cuisines across the region – are in danger of possible extinction thanks to climate change. Tomatoes and chilies both make up a huge part of traditional recipes from Mexico to Brazil and Argentina to Cuba – and they’re close to disappearing from grocery stores everywhere.

We know that tomato and chili are two fundamental ingredients in Mexican cuisine. Due to the threats suffered by its main pollinator, the bumblebee, these basic ingredients could disappear forever.

Climate change is wreaking havoc on the planet. But one of the most at-risk species is the humble bumble bee. These often feared insects are a vital source of pollination for thousands of plant and flower species around the world – if they disappear so too do the species of plants that depend on them.

Pollinators are species of great importance for a healthy environment. They are responsible for the the diversity and health of various biomes. Across Latin America, the bumble bee is largely responsible for the pollination of modern agriculture and this could have a major impact on the production of tomatoes and chilis.

Unfortunately, bumblebees are currently threatened, resulting in the possible extinction of different vegetables, including tomatoes and chili.

But why does the tiny bumble bee matter at all?

The bumble bee belongs to the insect family Apidae, which includes hundeds of different species of bumblebees. In fact, the bumble bee can be found on every continent except Antarctica and plays an outsized role in agriculture. The insects are often larger than honey bees, come in black and white varieties and often feature white, yellow, or orange stripes. This genus belongs to the Apidae family that includes different species commonly known as bumblebees. They’re almost entirely covered by very silky hairs. An adult bumblebee reaches 20 millimeters or more and feeds primarily on nectar from flowering plants. A curious fact is that females have the ability to sting, while males do not.

Bumblebees are epic pollinators of the tomato and chili plantS. Together with different species, the bumblebee helps produce many staple foods that are part of healthy diets around the world. If these become extinct the eating habits of all Latinos would suffer drastic changes as several vegetables would disappear.

So why are bumblebees in danger?

The main threat of these insects is the pesticides used in modern agriculture. That is why it is necessary to avoid consuming food produced in this way. We can all help the bumblebee planting plants, protecting native species and especially not damaging their natural environment.

But climate change is also wreaking havoc on the breeding patters of bumblebees – leading to colony collapse. With fewer colonies there is less breeding and therefore fewer bees around the world to pollinate our global crops.

Can you imagine a world without tomatoes or chilies?

Salsa. Moles. Pico de gallo. Ketchup. Chiles rellenos. Picadillo. All of these iconic Latin American dishes would be in danger of going extinct along with the bumblebee – because what’s a mole without the rich, complex flavors of dried chilies?

Several groups are already working hard to help fund programs that would work to conserve the dwindling bumblebee populations. While others are working out solutions that could perhaps allow tomatoes and chilies to self-pollinate – much as other plants already do.

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‘Planeta G’ Is A YouTube Series Dedicated To Highlighting Latino Environmental Activists

Things That Matter

‘Planeta G’ Is A YouTube Series Dedicated To Highlighting Latino Environmental Activists

valentinastackl / Instagram

Greenpeace has been fighting to save the planet and the environment since 1971. The Canadian organization has been there to fight for the planet every step of the way and it has fostered new leaders. Planeta G is the latest project out of Greenpeace and it is highlighting Latinos who are in the fight to save the planet and reverse climate change.

Planeta G is here to make sure that Latino environmental activists get the recognition that they deserve.

The bi-weekly web series is centered around exploring the intersectionality between environmental activism and the Latino identity. According to a recent study by Yale, 70 percent of Latinos are concerned about the environment. Latinos are also among the communities more disproportionately impacted by climate change.

According to an interview with Grist, Valentina Stackl and Crystal Mojica started “Planeta G” in order to highlight more Latino voices. Communities of color face several instances of environmental injustice in their communities. This includes lack of access to affordable healthcare, education, and housing.

It is brought to you by two co-hosts: Crystal Mojica.

Mojica is a senior communications specialist for Greenpeace USA and, according to the website, has spent a lot of her career in the environmental space. Mojica, who was raised in Colombia as a child, has volunteered for the Peace Corps and worked to advance reproductive rights for all women.

And Valentina Stackl.

Stackl was born in Europe after her mother, a Jewish-Chilean journalist, fled the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. After moving to the U.S. at 16, Stackl got involved in international environmental justice starting with working with farmworkers.

The co-hosts are also using their platform to remind people to vote and the importance of using their voice.

The next election is drawing near and there are so many reasons for Latinos to vote. They have to make their voices heard and there are several issues that deeply impact the community.

“Latinx people are especially becoming more empowered than ever before to speak out. But we’ve done it before,” Stackl told Grist. “Historically, we think back to Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez and the labor movement. Sometimes we forget that. We care. The experiences of the people that we’ve spoken to on the show reflect that.”

The co-hosts are delivering more than interviews to combat climate change.

It is known that the vegan diet is more sustainable and better for the environment. Being vegan means you are helping to cut down on greenhouse gases from farming. There is also the benefit of not contributing to deforestation for farmland due to the demand of meat in the world.

The vegan versions of Latino foods is still in line with the web series’ mission to challenge dispel myths about Latinos. Planeta G is showing how you can make some delicious versions of Latino food without using all of the animal products. They even promise to fool your mom.

READ: Environmental Advocates Are Offering Tips On How People In Mexico City Can Shop With The New Plastic Bag Ban

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This Mexican Mom Has Gone Viral On TikTok For Her Recipe Videos Showing You How Easy It Is To Be A Cook

Culture

This Mexican Mom Has Gone Viral On TikTok For Her Recipe Videos Showing You How Easy It Is To Be A Cook

@JennyMartinezzz / TikTok

Look, it’s no secret that cooking isn’t for everyone. It can be tiring, time-consuming, and sometimes downright difficult. Even if we’re learning from our abuelos or tíos, who are passing down a generation’s worth of recipes, the idea of cooking can be intimidating.

But one woman has taken to TikTok to demystify Mexican cooking and she’s making it look super easy in the process. And as someone who’s actually tried out several of her quick TikTok recipe videos, I can tell you, it is as easy as it looks.

Jenny Martinez has quickly become TikTok’s favorite Latina mom.

In her videos on TikTok, Jenny Martinez shares her traditional Mexican recipient with more than 1.5 million followers – and everything from her dad’s famous shrimp cocktail to her easy churros is on the menu.

Martinez got the idea to create recipe videos for TikTok from her daughter, who herself is an avid TikTok user. The duo shot a few short videos and from their things quickly escalated.

“The following morning my phone was blowing up and we couldn’t believe it that one of my videos had gone viral,” Martinez told In The Know.

Although creating video content, especially cooking content, is a lot of work, Martinez sees it as a chance to do what she already loves – to cook. For her, it’s not just about making mouthwatering meals, like conchas con nieve or chuletas abobadasit’s about preserving Mexican culture.

She learned traditional cooking from her mother growing up.

Like so many of us, Martinez grew up learning how to cook with her mother.

“For me, it’s not — it’s not that I’m giving away my secrets,” Martinez told In The Know. “To me, it’s just sharing my knowledge to the younger community so we can continue our culture, the authentic Mexican recipes that our grandmas, our mothers passed down to us.”

Food is one of the greatest bonds between a community. It helps shape traditions, events, ceremonies, and entire cultures. Martinez knows this and believes that food can unite the people within a culture while educating those outside of it. Some of her followers haven’t heard of the ingredients she uses but her explainers in English make such barriers fade away.

“The whole Mexican cooking, it’s just something that connects us together as a community and as Mexicans,” Martinez told In The Know. “Now that I see that in social media that everybody wants to learn and everybody wants to keep on the traditions, that’s what I like. That’s what I want to see.”

The mom’s recipes are great for budding chefs at all levels.

Martinez tells her followers not to get so hung up on trying something new and just attempt to do what you want with the recipe.

“You don’t have to be an expert in cooking. Just open the fridge and start following my recipes. I try to make them as easy as possible,” she said.

But at the heart of it all, Martinez is really passionate about her craft.

“I honestly see the beauty in food and in the cooking,” Martinez told In The Know. “I mean, it’s kind of like an art at the end of the day. When you’re plating it and when you see everything just combining. When you see all of those ingredients, that aroma coming out, to me it’s just beautiful.”

One of her most popular recipe videos are her sandia paletas!

Sure, summer may be over but it’s still forever sandia season in my mind. Especially the version Martinez does on her TikTok. Lathered in chamo y and tajin, you’ll never look at sandia paletas the same.

And you’re not the only one – this video has been viewed more than 1.2 million times!

This is the one that I tried to make and it turned out soooo good.

Carne asada nachos are the ultimate cure for la cruda and every time I was out at bar hoping (pre-Covid obviously), I’d almost always end up at a truck by my house for these guys. But doing them at home is just as easy and mil veces mas delicious!

Martinez teaches you how to make these bomb nachos in less than 30 seconds so it’s worth your investment. The result is everything!

Which recipes are you most excited to try out? Or h

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